Insights from This Is Us

 In Blog

I don’t always have time to watch the television show This is Us, but my wife, JoAnn, never misses an episode. When she catches me up on a show I’ve missed, it feels like Jack and Rebecca and the rest of the cast are family members. Why is that?

Recently, I asked a variety of people what they like about This is Us. Answers ranged from the authentic, relatable characters, captivating story lines, great music, and innovative serial content.

It occurred to me that these are the same principles that we’ve been coaching media personalities to incorporate into their personality brands for years. They don’t have screenwriters scripting their shows; however, developing and growing unique personalities, sharing authentic life experiences – including being vulnerable – connects  with listeners.

This is Us effectively uses music to highlight themes. Sometimes there is an intentional music bed beneath the dialogue, and other times the music is used to add emotional impact to the content. There is a scene where the song Lonesome Loser by Little River Band is used to punctuate  Kevin’s (played by Justin Hartley) troubled visit to his former high school. That scene touched me. Intentionally using music to accentuate a point is powerful. Music that enhances content is more powerful than generic music.

There are television shows, podcasts and radio shows successfully using these techniques to capture their audience’s attention. Listening to and watching how other shows make emotional connections can creatively inspire any team. Look at what’s working out there, and then put a unique spin on it.

Writing this prompted me to watch one of the This is Us episodes I’d missed. I was so engrossed in the storyline, I didn’t hear JoAnn come in and place a box of tissues on the table next to my chair. I grabbed one and yelled, “Damn it! I can’t believe I’m crying over a television show!”  I could hear her laughter from the other room.

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